Morbid thrillers and those that spell martial arts mayhem are popular with filmmakers looking East for inspiration. This one, rumoured to be a rehash of the 2001 Indonesian thriller,The Raid: Redemption, is little more than a blood fest mangled with a jaded love story. In a recent interview, the director claimed that this film was based on the Ramayana. In a way, it is. Just that Tiger and Shraddha both channel a version of Sita and whoever forces you to endure this film will be the ultimate Raavan.
We are introduced to a master of all evil, Raghav Shetty (Sudheer Babu), who runs a fight club in Bangkok. Shetty happens to be the son of the Guruswami (Shifuji), who runs a Kalaripayattu (armed martial art form) school in Kerala. Then, we meet Ronnie (Tiger Shroff), a self-confessed rebel, forced to attend Guruswami’s fight school by his father. Ronnie smiles a whole lot and giggles at everything. And when he spots Sia (Shraddha), peeping out of the train, having an intense conversation with the clouds, his reaction is obvious. The two take an instant liking for each other as Sia is consistently vain and Ronnie can’t help himself. A couple of rain dances later, kahaani mein twist. Bad boy Shetty is charmed by Sia and wants to marry her. Executing this wish is easy-peasy. He shows up at her home with a briefcase stacked with cash, and Sia’s father, P P Khurrana (Sunil Grover)— a freeloader hoping to cash in on her daughter’s acting career — is happy to oblige. A silly confusion, a time lapse and Sia needs rescuing, having been abducted by Shetty. Who you gonna call? Hopefully, a radio cab to pick you up and take you away from this misery.
Littered with brain-numbing sequences, here are the ones that pinched the most. Sia’s pet one-liner — ‘tu ek din bohot aage jayega’, is explained as, ‘tu jidhar bhi jayega, log bolenge, aage badh’. In this film, Sia is rescued twice by Ronnie. In both instances, they are caught again within minutes because instead of escaping, they break into a song to celebrate their reunion. Among the nasty characters in this film, the most sinister has to be Yeong, described as, “China se import kiya hua killing machine”. While his dropkicks could do serious damage, it’s difficult to digest his deadliness as he flaunts a long bob that he whips about while delivering his dramatic threats.
Tiger Shroff packs multiple personalities in one role. From a fierce fighter who can carry himself on his two fingers to a blushing teen. In Heropanti, he had the enthusiasm of a little boy in a candy shop, in this film he manages to kung-fu with the grace of ballet. Most of his scenes with the female lead could’ve been pulled off with the background number, “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun”. Shraddha Kapoor has had a good run in Hindi films till now. But if you were to judge her based on this film alone, you’d be horrified. It’s impossible to tell her sobs from her laughs and her high kicks don’t rise above knee level. Telugu star Sudheer Babu manages enough grunts to pass for a convincing negative lead but the film’s lack-of-a-script caricatures his scenes in the second half. The only saving grace for this film is Grandmaster Shifuji Shaurya Bhardwaj, who makes his acting debut with a restrained performance.
Director Sabbir Khan should be credited for framing the well-conceptualised action scenes. But for the rest, writer Sanjeev Dutta left him with very little to play with. The songs in the film are great — only for your mid-film washroom visits. Almost 140 minutes long, Baaghi can get insufferable to a point that you hope the lead pair actually succumbs to the blows and we can all go home. But they don’t.